Azzad's Proxy Voting Guidelines
We vote proxies on behalf of our clients according to the guidelines below.
According to the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (USSIF) 2020 Trends Report, which tracked data as of year-end 2019, investors are considering environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors across $17 trillion of professionally managed assets, a 42 percent increase since 2018.
Azzad’s commitment to socially responsible investing remains as strong as ever. We vote proxies related to securities held by any client in a manner solely in the interest of the client and consistent with our investment philosophy. Our proxy voting guidelines focus on the following three issues we believe help enhance long-term financial results while supporting broader social goals:
- Promoting human rights and economic development
- Ensuring responsible executive compensation and corporate accountability
- Responding to environmental challenges
Corporations have a role to play in some of the most significant challenges in the United States–from income inequality to climate change. In pursuing a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders, they can become detached from their duties as corporate citizens. We believe that is our duty to encourage these corporations to act more responsibly in those instances where they fall short. The proxy voting process is part of this effort. We view the right to vote proxies for our clients as a responsibility to help ensure that the conditions that allowed companies to thrive in the first place continue to do so–for the benefit of shareholders and stakeholders for generations to come.
These guidelines summarize our positions on various issues of concern to ethical investors. They give general indication as to how Azzad Asset Management will vote on clients’ shares. Because we have a fiduciary duty to our clients to examine each resolution offered and the context in which it applies, we vote proxies after considering our clients’ investment goals. Therefore, there may be instances in which votes differ from the guidelines stated here.
Because it is impossible to predict all potential voting issues, this listing is not exhaustive. The guidelines are subject to change without notice.
Lower drug prices: We will support resolutions asking companies to implement and report on price restraint policies for pharmaceutical products. We will also support resolutions calling for pharmaceutical companies to enhance access and affordability of drugs to the developing world.
Labor relations/supply chain management: We will support resolutions requesting that companies adopt and/or report on appropriate codes of conduct that address a number of labor relations issues, including: the use of forced labor, fair wages and safe working conditions, and the right to organize and negotiate with management.
Country-specific human rights proposals: We will support resolutions asking companies with investments in countries with patterns of human rights abuses to develop guidelines or codes of conduct.
Justice for indigenous peoples: We will support resolutions requesting corporation to respect the rights of indigenous peoples, avoid exploiting their natural resources, and negotiating fairly.
Executive compensation: We will oppose an executive compensation proposal if we believe the compensation does not reflect the current economic and social circumstances of the company. This includes CEO pay plans that have no absolute limit on the amount of some or all of various bonus payments; CEO pay plans that have discretionary payments; CEO pay awards vest automatically as time passes instead requiring the meeting of some performance requirement at each vesting point; any performance requirement that allows vesting when performance is below the median of peers; any payment in the form of stock options.
Boards of Directors: The board of directors is responsible for the overall governance of the corporation. We will generally abstain from votes on board of director nominees, unless enough information is available to make an informed decision.
Political spending: We will support resolutions requesting that companies provide greater disclosure of political spending/lobbying.
Employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs): We will support ESOPs created to encourage active employee ownership. However, we will vote on a case-by-case basis on any ESOP that intends to prevent a corporate takeover.
Climate change: We will support resolutions requesting that corporations disclose information on their impact on climate change, reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, and increase their investment in renewable energy sources. We will support proposals requesting greater transparency on the practice of hydraulic fracturing and associated risks.
Genetically engineered agricultural products: We will support resolutions that ask companies to label products that contain genetically modified organisms. We will support resolutions requesting that companies report on the use of genetically modified organisms in their products.